LSARC was pleased to attend the event held in the Atrium at the Water Tower Inn yesterday evening, Thursday June 5, 2014.
Sault Ste Marie riding candidates in the current election were asked to present a 5 minute outline of their party’s policies and answer some prepared questions.
Mr. David Orazietti, the Liberal candidate, confirmed that his party will stay the course on the policies it has been pursuing since elected in 2003. These policies will see more wind and solar projects imposed on Algoma-Manitoulin. Mr. Orazietti also said that while his party is aware of the rising cost of electricity and the burden it places on households, especially low and fixed income families, he promised that if re-elected the Liberal Government would maintain the subsidized electricity prices for large corporations in Ontario. The difference between these reduced rates and the actual cost of electricity is charged to household consumers through the Global Adjustment item on the electricity bill.
The Green candidate, Ms. Kara Flannigan, presented a platform full of feel-good ideas but short on realism or practicality. She promised no tax cuts for corporations but will lower payroll taxes.
The Green Party wants to eliminate the separate school systems in Ontario claiming it is a move which will eliminate discrimination. Which is of course nonsense. We have separate school boards precisely because it would be religious discrimination to fund one language or religion over the other official one. She promises huge savings and reduced class sizes, one wonders how that will work given our experience with Municipal amalgamation in Ontario…
Shockingly, to those of us that worked so hard to prevent the construction of wind projects in the Great Lakes, the Green Party promises to lift the moratorium on offshore wind projects and encourage their construction in the Great Lakes!
This is very disturbing for many reasons.
But it illustrates the incoherence of the Green Party platform which wants to help small local businesses, which rely heavily on tourism, yet will encourage offshore wind projects in Lake Superior with no thought to the damage that will be caused to our thriving and sustainable tourism industry, the second largest employer in the region.
She exhibited a profound ignorance of the Ontario electrical system by asserting that conservation would save homeowners money. This is of course untrue because virtually all electrical supply in Ontario is purchased under regulated supply contracts which guarantee revenues to the supplier. In other words if we didn’t buy any electricity at all in Ontario we’d still have to pay for it, just as currently we pay the wind generators whether they produce electricity or not.
Ms. Celia Ross, the NDP candidate agreed with the Green Party on “renewable” energy development in the Province and assured us that an NDP government would install more wind and solar than the Liberals intend to, but through a Public entity and community groups. Ms. Ross did agree that current renewable energy projects are not being properly monitored to prevent environmental damage and are being approved without adequate ecological protections. She expressed the opinion that those of us who express reservations or disagree with these renewable energy policies just haven’t been properly communicated with.
Ms. Ross mentioned proper communication in respect of a number of issues and one could not help but get the impression that proper communication was all that is required to reduce the debt and solve all of Ontario’s problems.
Mr. Rod Fremlin spoke for the shortest time, but said the most. Even the local media agreed, off the record, that this was so.
Given how short his presentation was and how pertinent to our concerns I include it verbatim below along with his two answers to the prepared questions:
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss some of the important energy issues which have been addressed in the PC Party platform and on which we can all agree. The lack of an honest and complete cost/benefit analysis for the GEA has meant there have been many unfortunate outcomes, such as surpluses sold at loss, followed by incompletely researched “fixes”, such as constraint payments, which merely add to costly and we must hope, unintended consequences.
Attempts to “kick start” any industry should not result in a kick-in-the-teeth to others. When the Auditor General reports net job losses it is time for due diligence.
The energy system in Ontario is now so screwed up and such a political football that we have lost the economic advantage of cheap, abundant and reliable electricity; once the economic engine of Canada we are now a have-not province. We desperately need greater transparency and accountability in the energy system if we are not to leave our grandchildren with an impossible debt burden.
We must stop the expensive and counterproductive power subsidies. Countries such as Spain and Australia have experienced a considerable backlash against such unjustified costs. The patience of the public tends to be short in the face of energy poverty. When hydro bills and heat-or-eat decisions replace weather as the default topic of conversation you know it is time to revisit traditional priorities which are cheap and reliable.
We can slim the energy system by reducing costly and unnecessary bureaucracy. The OPA was supposed to be a temporary entity which has bloated in size and cost while failing in its basic planning mission to maintain an affordable and reliable power supply essential for a good quality of life.
In 2005, Premier McGuinty set up the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) as a temporary agency. Today, that so-called temporary agency has ballooned from 14 employees to more than 300, and of those employees, 75 are on the sunshine list. A full 25% of the OPA’s payroll is making more than $100,000 a year. This bloated bureaucracy is now costing Ontario families more than $80 million each and every year.
Accommodation of intermittent and unreliable generation necessitates balancing generation so we must take advantage of cheap and abundant natural gas in replacing coal and home heating.
Opening access to affordable nuclear and hydroelectricity in nearby jurisdictions can restore the positive environment for energy intensive manufacturing which results in solid jobs to keep our youth in Ontario. It has been said that Alberta exports oil and Ontario exports children. We can cease being the punchline in that joke if we all ask not what the government can do for us but what we can do for ourselves to once again become a true powerhouse economy.
Given that polling shows 70% of Ontarians have a favourable opinion of green energy how will you ensure that sustainable energy is a viable part of ontario’s energy supply going forward?
I object to the use of the term green energy because it is a marketing slogan and is not useful in a rational discussion of the energy sector.
the PC define sustainability as living within our means both environmentally and economically.
By reducing the deficit and eliminating unsustainable subsidies we’ll be able to have sustainability going forward.
From your perspective, how important has the sustainable energy sector been for the new well paid skilled manufacturing jobs and much-needed construction jobs and local economic development in the region.
Local jobs are important and the alternative energy sector has created some jobs in the community, most of them temporary construction jobs.
The green energy act has not delivered on the promised jobs in Ontario. This Liberal government has repeatedly promised us 50,000 jobs, unfortunately their own figures reveal that in the 5 years since the Green Energy Act was passed there have only been around 10,000 jobs created in the alternative energy sector.
What is worse, many studies, including a report by Ontario’s Auditor General, have revealed that for every job created in the alternative energy sector we have lost over 2 jobs in the general economy.
These job losses are accelerating as the impact of high electricity prices is driving employers to lower cost jurisdictions.
Nothing has been more damaging to household budgets and to our economy than Ontario’s soaring electricity prices
Our plan will get electricity prices under control and reclaim one of ontario’s traditional economic strengths – affordable energy.